Tahoe gymnasts win first state team title in Reno
March 17, 2003
The Tahoe Gymnastics boys’ team made its dream come true, winning the state championship for class six Saturday in Reno despite a string of bad luck on the eve of the meet.
“It just seemed like everyone was getting sick or something else was going on,” said coach George Hery, Jr.
In addition to a gold medal for the boys’ class six (ages 7-9) team, several South Tahoe athletes also won golds in individual events at the state championships at High Sierra Gymnastics in Reno.
“It has been a magical year for us because of all the hard work the team puts in, the hours and hours of repetition, constantly trying to get stronger and more flexible,” Hery said. “I’m a little bit biased, but I think gymnastics is really a complete sport. It requires every physical, mental and emotional attribute for the athlete to be successful. You go to a competition and you only get one chance, so you need excellent concentration and focus during competition.”
The boys’ team certainly pulled it off on Saturday, putting together a string of medals that surpassed all of Hery’s expectations.
“Having class six be state champions is just gigantic for South Tahoe gymnastics,” he said. “Competing against and beating teams from Las Vegas and Reno speaks volumes about the kids and the dedication of the parents. This is the first time we’ve had a team win the state championship.”
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Hery said each competitor in class six has “a unique story about this whole season,” but perhaps none as unique as some of the seeming bad luck that befell the athletes on the eve of traveling to Reno.
Mitchell Lincoln, who placed in the top 10 in rings, vault, parallel bars, pommel horse and floor exercises, missed the entire week’s practice with the flu.
“There is so much timing involved that to miss even one or two practices is like taking two weeks off of your training,” Hery said. “Mitchell ended up with his highest all-around score this year, so we couldn’t have asked any more from him.”
Petr Colwell, another class six team member, was injured last week and close to not traveling to the meet.
“Last week, he was playing tag and ran into a wall and it knocked him out for four minutes,” Hery said. “He missed half of last week and then was still kind of groggy, so he didn’t get the kind of workouts he wanted before the biggest meet of the year. He still scored a 9.15 on the rings to take seventh place.”
Colwell also scored in the top 10 in high bar and pommel horse.
Jason Reum, who took home an individual gold medal on vault with a score of 9.6, competed for the first time in class six this year.
William Benham got the silver in rings, bronze in floor and was fourth in all-around scoring. He was also fourth on the pommel horse and high bar, seventh on vault and eighth on parallel bars.
“In the middle of the season he wasn’t sure he was going to stick with it,” Hery explained. “We had a talk, and after that he never missed one practice and this was the result of his hard work. He helped the team win a state championship, plus a silver and bronze medal.”
Casey Tara was state champion on rings with a score of 9.9 and he also was third in all-around with a score of 55. Tara was second on vault, fourth on pommel horse and high bar and fifth on parallel bars.
“That’s the highest he’s scored all year in rings,” Hery said. “He went to the competition and did a perfect routine. Everyone was so happy for him, so it was really neat to see that. It’s his favorite event.”
Kevin Griest was state champion in all-around with a score of 56.45, as well as the gold-medal winner in floor and pommel horse. He also got three silvers in rings, parallel bars and high bar and in vault he was eighth.
“He had over a 9 on every event and his lowest score was a 9.1,” Hery noted. “He has had an incredible year and he’s always in top three in the all-around. He missed Friday’s practice because he was starting to get a fever. We were keeping our fingers crossed that he would show up. He wasn’t 100 percent, but he still went out there and was amazing.”
The team also took some competitors in class five (ages 10-11) and seven (ages 7-9). For class seven the team carried three boys to the Reno meet.
Matt Zane had the highest all-around score, finishing in fourth place. He took the silver on vault, bronze on floor and rings, fourth place on high bar and fifth on pommel horse and parallel bars.
C.J. Lindner took a bronze on pommel horse, fifth place on high bar, sixth on rings, parallel bars and vault and seventh on floor. He was sixth in all-around.
Garrett Singer took the gold on high bar for class seven. He was seventh in all-around, third on vault, fourth on parallel bars, sixth in pommel horse, seventh in rings and 10th in floor exercises.
Ricky Braun was the only athlete in class five who traveled with the team to Reno. He won the state championship in that class for rings and parallel bars and was second in all-around.
One other class three (ages 12-13) athletes traveled with the team in hopes of competing, but was injured during warmups. Raion Sabo twisted an ankle during warmups in Reno and did not get the chance to compete, but a petition by Hery, nevertheless, secured him a spot on the Nevada state team thanks to several top finishes during the regular season.
“He’s doing some really high-level gymnastics,” Hery said. “They took X-rays and I don’t think his injury is serious. He’s going to ice it and work on his upper-body strength.”
The team’s next big meet is the boys’ regional championships April 3-6 in Las Vegas, where Hery’s young athletes will face competition from Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada and California. Several Tahoe gymnasts were named to the state team to travel to regionals for competition, including Griest, Tara, Benham, Sabo and Braun.
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