Drew Watson decided to reward the school that sought her out first. Danica Abanto is looking forward to many winter wonderland days at her new school.

Both Level 10 gymnasts from Texas East Gymnastics signed full scholarships to Auburn University and The Ohio State University Wednesday afternoon at the TEG Gym in front of a throng of teammates, friends, family, coaches, media and well-wishers.

“It’s amazing because I remember (watching Alaina Johnson signing with Florida and Sydney Dukes signing with Kentucky) and thinking I am going to be them one day,” Abanto said. “That day is today and it still hasn’t totally hit me.”

Abanto is a senior at East Texas Christian Academy. As a junior, Abanto finished third in the floor exercise for Level 10 at the Texas State Championships and was second in bars and fifth in all-around at the J.O. National Invitational Tournament May 11-13 in Hampton, Virginia.

As for why Abanto chose to be a Buckeye, the school setting, program - and the snow.

“I love the snow - cold weather and four seasons; I am excited,” Abanto said. “Everyone else from (other schools I looked) at were super nice, but I could see myself making a family with a great group of girls (at Ohio State), and they embraced me.”

Watson is the Texas state champion in vault while also finishing second in floor exercise at last season’s state championships. A senior at Robert E. Lee High School, Watson is from Nacogdoches and honored a commitment she made as a freshman to join the Auburn Tigers.

“It’s always nice when people want you and they were really interested in me from the start,” said Watson, who follows the likes of teammates Alaina Johnson (Florida) Sarah Shaffer (Arkansas) and Sydney Dukes (Kentucky) to the SEC.

“I honestly felt famous because they wanted me. The coaches are awesome, the atmosphere is awesome and the campus is beautiful. I mean, what could you not like about Auburn?”

TEG coach Martin Parsley is celebrating two more of his athletes signing Division I scholarships.

“They are two good kids who have been part of the family for a real long time and part of our group here,” Parsley said. “I have enjoyed watching them grow up and move to the next step.”

Abanto plans on majoring in pre-med to become a pediatrician with Watson wanting to major in kinesiology.


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