RICHMOND — Jackson Harrison's favorite part of his floor routine is the double Arabian.
It sounds dangerous when he describes it, particularly when he refers to the ground.
"You are tumbling backwards, then into a roundoff and a back handspring. Up in the air, you do a half turn and then two flips forward," Harrison said. "When I do the half turn, I can see the ground before I flip. I know where the ground should be when I'm ready."
Harrison, who graduated from Chariho High earlier this month, said the floor exercise is his strongest gymnastics event. Male gymnasts also compete in the vault, high bar, pommel horse, rings and parallel bars. The floor routine does not have dance or choreography.
Harrison will continue his career in the sport in the fall as a member of the Arizona State club team.
The Sun Devils had 44 gymnasts this season. The team is self-funded through its booster club, corporate sponsorships and fundraising events, according to the club's website.
ASU has won 22 USA Gymnastics men's collegiate national titles, including the last 13.
"I'm very excited to be going to ASU. When you get to college, the number of gymnasts drop off so it's cool to be one of the guys that stuck around," Harrison said.
ASU found out about Harrison through his participation in national championship events as a member of the gymnastics team at Aim High Academy in East Greenwich.
"When you go to nationals, you fill out forms from USA Gymnastics. They have all your information and they send it out to coaches. The college coaches saw me at nationals. Coach Rob [Survick] said he had been watching me since I was a freshman," Harrison said.
Harrison hopes to keep training in all six events at ASU and make the lineup for floor, vault and high bar his first year. He plans to major in kinesiology and be a gymnastics coach one day.
Harrison has been training at Aim High since he was 8 years old.
In 2017, he finished seventh in all-around at the New England regionals and qualified for the nationals in Kissimee, Fla., where he was first on floor and third on vault at Level 9.
In 2018, he was fourth at the regionals, where he won the vault at Level 10. He was second on the vault among 56 gymnasts at the nationals in Oklahoma City.
But Harrison tore his Achilles tendon in December 2018. He missed the rest of the season, including the nationals in May 2019.
The coronavirus pandemic wiped out the 2020 regionals and nationals.
"It was hard. I almost didn't believe it," Harrison said of this season ending early. "I had worked so hard coming back from my injury, and I was doing well in the early competitions."
But Harrison, who trains about 15 hours a week at Aim High, got over the disappointment.
"When the week the nationals would have been held passed, it felt like a breath of fresh air," Harrison said.
Harrison said the sport has taught him a few things.
"I think one thing I've learned is perseverance," he said. "I really have a bias, but I think gymnastics is one of the hardest sports in the world. We made so many mistakes in practice. We have to push through those hard times so you can get consistent at what you are doing."
Harrison said he draws inspiration from Simone Biles, the country's top female gymnast who has won 30 Olympic and world championship medals.
"She has gone through such adversity in her life," he said. "She was adopted by her grandparents because her mother could not care for her and she was part of the sex abuse scandal [involving Dr. Larry Nassar]."
What advice would Harrison give to a beginning gymnast?
"Make sure you have fun. It's such a difficult sport. It's not always going to be fun, but make sure you are enjoying it," he said.