Young gymnasts excel |

Young gymnasts excel

Boys team expands, brings home honors from state competitions

— Not yet tall enough to jump off a mat or springboard to reach the high bar, the young gymnasts climbed the metal support poles like a rope.

From there, the four boys swung up, supported themselves with their arms and pointed their toes like poised, experienced competitors.

Slowly, that is what the members of the Steamboat Gymnastics Center’s competitive boys’ team are becoming.

On Saturday, Billy Winters and Cole Gibbs placed second as a team in Level 5. Troy DeJong and Evan Barbier placed second as a team in Level 4 at the EAGLES State Championships in Colorado Springs.

EAGLES stands for Ele–mentary Artistic Gymnastic League and Education System.

Individually, the boys also excelled. Gibbs won the all-around trophy, as the top boy in Level 5, scoring 50.95 points. He also won state titles on the floor exercise (9.1) and the parallel bars (8.7).

Gibbs, 8, said the parallel bars is his favorite apparatus of the six that Colorado boys compete on — parallel bars, vault, floor exercise, high bar, pommel horse and still rings.

“I love being high up and handstands,” he said during Thursday’s practice.

The parallel bars are at least five feet off the ground.

Winters placed third in Level 5 all-around, scoring 47.1 points. Each boy received a trophy.

DeJong won a state championship on the vault, performing a handstand to a flatback. At Level 5, the boys don’t go off a traditional vault. Instead, they jump off a mat to a handstand, demonstrating strength and control, before landing on their back on heavy mat.

DeJong, 8, scored an impressive 9.5 on his state vault.

“I like vault,” he said. “It’s the easiest.”

Barbier, 7, won a state title on the pommel horse, scoring an 8.7, beating everyone by at least 0.4 points, a large margin in gymnastics. Barbier finished second in the all-around in Level 4. DeJong placed fourth.

“They did great,” coach Mike Smith said. “They kept their focus and went out and had a lot of fun. They trained hard for this event and went out and showed their best to the judges.”

EAGLES is separate from USA Gymnastics, which Steam–boat’s boys also compete in. EAGLES is a smaller series of meets with different criteria. Steamboat will resume USAG competition in the fall.

The boys have four months to work on their new routines. The entire team, including Jack Coon and Kyle Rogers, who did not compete in Colorado Springs, will advance to Level 5. Winters and Gibbs will begin to mix Level 6 routines into the mix, as well. Level 10 is the highest point.

During the last year, the boys’ team has grown. Originally, Gibbs and Winters were the only boys. Now, the competitive team has six boys, and five additional boys on the pre-team team. Last year, there were no boys on the pre-team.

Smith hopes the young pre-team boys can begin EAGLES competitions next season.

–To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208

or e-mail

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