SEMO’s Anna Speller wins beam event in front of hometown crowd


Anna Speller, SEMO Athletics

Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

It has been a big week for St. Louis native Anna Speller, a sophomore member of the Southeast Missouri (SEMO) Women’s Gymnastics Team.

Speller, won the individual beam event title and helped her squad to a fourth-place overall finish at the 2022 GymQuarters Mardi Gras Invitational quad meet held at the Family Arena.

Long road back for Anna Speller

For Speller, whose family are members of Congregation Shaare Emeth, Friday’s meet marked her 2022 debut after missing the first five competitions due to COVID and injury.

“I missed the first two meets because of COVID protocol and then I actually got COVID,” said Speller, 20. “Then the first week I was back training I sustained a mild concussion while practicing on floor, which took me out for the other three meets. Getting the concussion was so frustrating because it was a fluke and there was nothing I could do but rest and wait for my head to heal.”


Once Speller was cleared to return to the gym, she worked hard to get back into competition shape and finally got to compete last weekend.

“Battling back was very hard mentally for me. I was trying not to put a lot of pressure on myself, but I knew I could do it, so I needed to trust my training and all of the numbers I had done plus just being confident in yourself is half of the battle,” said Speller.

Earning her career-high

Was it the adrenalin? Was it the hometown crowd? Whatever it was, Speller matched a personal-best 9.900 beam routine to capture her first career event title. Her 9.9 is tied for sixth all-time for high scores for SEMO.

“Earning my career-high and first event title at my first meet back this season was an incredible feeling and especially doing it in front of all of my friends and family made it even sweeter,” said Speller. “Plus, it made all of the setbacks at the beginning of seasons worth it. I was definitely itching to get back and that gave me an extra push and I wanted to prove to myself and others that I deserve that spot and can succeed in it.”

Love of sport started at early age 

Speller, a 2020 graduate of MICDS, has been a gymnast since she was just 18-months old.

“We started her in gymnastics because she kept climbing on everything and someone suggested it,” remembered her mother, Tracy Speller. “She started at Little Gym in Creve Coeur (now Miss Kelly’s) and we still keep in touch with Kelly Mertens, her first coach.”

After the family moved to California, Speller began more formalized gymnastics classes, and joining teams.

“When we knew we were moving back to St. Louis, we asked her coach in California where we should put her in St. Louis, and she suggested Team Central,” said Tracy Speller. “It was the perfect fit for her. She completed all of her club gymnastics for Team Central (Levels 4 – 10).”

Moving forward

The experience has proven fruitful for Speller. As a SEMO Red Hawk, Speller trains for every event except for vault. And while she only competed in beam (her favorite) in her return, she is hopeful she can compete in other events in the future.

But, no matter what, Speller is back with a renewed purpose and direction, all while never losing her spirit and love of her craft and her teammates.

“What I love most about gymnastics is the relationships that I have made because of it. I have met some of the most amazing people both at Team Central Gymnastics Academy and also here at SEMO,” said Speller. “But along with the people I have met, the lessons in life that gymnastics has taught will forever shape who I am as a person. Getting that adrenaline when you do a new skill or hit that routine in competition will be a feeling that I miss when I am not doing gymnastics anymore as well.”

Speller and the Red Hawks’ season continues this Friday, with a home meet against Illinois State.