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Trio heading to national championships
State champion baton twirlers heading for the nationals are, from left, Baylee Pine, Julia Sowin, and Kady Elliott. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Baylee Pine is making a return trip to the U.S. Twirling National Championships.

For the 7-year-old Manteca girl, this will be her third time competing in the national event, which will be held in Little Rock, Ark., from July 11 through 15.

Pine, a second-grade student at Neil Hafley School, will be joined by her teammates of Graffiti Sweeties. Included are Julia Sowin, 5, of Tracy, Kady Elliot, 9, of Turlock, and Cameo Humphrey, 16, of Modesto.

They qualified by taking first place in their respective divisions of last weekend’s California State Baton Twirling Championships held in Rocklin.

Krystal Luis of Manteca also competed in the state meet.

Meanwhile, Humphrey, whose mother, Dandi Manuel, is both the instructor and director of the local baton twirling squad – Graffiti Sweeties are made up of about 30 members, with some coming from the Manteca and Ripon parks and recreation departments – is the veteran of the group. She’s competed in numerous state and national events and will take part in this year’s international competition in Florida.

“We practice twice a week,” said Manuel, who was a long-time Manteca resident but now living in Modesto.

Members of her Graffiti Sweeties also take part in many of the events, including the upcoming Fourth of July parade in Manteca.

Manuel is inviting youngsters of all ages, including those who might be interested in taking part in the parade, to her introductory baton-twirling clinic scheduled from June 27 through 30 at Golden West School, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Those interested can contact the City of Manteca’s Parks and Recreation Department for more information.

Pine was 4 years old when she first became interested in baton twirling. Since then, she’s captured three regional and state meets.

She recently competed in the age 8 Division.

Sowin, who will be competing in the national event for the very first time, competed in the age 6 Division.