Gabriella Michaluk about to start her event.

Kitimat hosts first Zone 7 gymnastics champs to be held in 20 years

Local gymnasts represented the town well

By Heather van Horne

Kitimat was chosen as the venue for the first Zone 7 Gymnastics Championships to be held in 20 years.

Kitimat Dynamics Gymnastics Club hosted the championships on Saturday, May 25, as part of the club’s annual Spring Fling Invitational.

The event gave the almost 140 athletes from Prince Rupert, Terrace, Smithers and Kitimat the opportunity to compete and to earn their team the zone champ title. Special awards were also handed out for various accomplishments.

Kitimat gymnasts shone bright, once again, and won several of these:

Best Team – Junior Olympic 6/7 Team – Mya Anthony and Maggie Baker

Best Floor Presentation – JO 2 – Teija Barker

Best Floor Presentation – JO 4 – Gabriella Michaluk

Best Floor Presentation – JO 6/7 – Mya Anthony

Interclub Most Dynamic Vault – Sara Rutsatz

Interclub Best Strength Hold – Colby Kidd

MAG Level 1 High Score – Philippe Martel

MAG Best Swings – Philippe Martel

Session 1 saw our Junior Olympic (JO2) and Interclub girls compete. Ella Brodie and Teija Barker earned a gold standing all around. Evie Desousa-Edwards and Ellah Ramos-Gadbois earned a silver standing all around.

For Interclub Performance Plus, Taya Pacheco earned a gold standing all around. In Interclub Performance Eve Laberge, Madison Mayer, Veronica Mikhailava, Tylee Pacheco, Sara Faith Rutsatz, Sofia Sulentich, Chloe Siqouin, Cloe Bonneau and Maddi Rego performed routines they’ve been working on all year.

Interclub focuses on the performance aspect of the sport more than making certain skills or scores. The girls had fun!

Session 2 brought JO1, MAG (Men’s Artistic Gymnastics) and our youngest gymnasts doing a demonstration of the routines they’ve been working on.

Our JO 1 girls Payton McCrae, Zoe Girard, Danica Best and Aspen Taylor all earned a silver standing overall. For some, this was one of their first times competing.

Kitimat had three boys competing at Level 1 – Philippe Martel earned gold on all events for gold standing overall.

William Kaines earned gold on floor with silver on all the other events for a silver standing overall.

Michael Michaluk earned bronze on parallel bars and high bar with silvers on everything else for bronze overall.

Coder Kaberry, Colby Kidd, Marcus Klassen and Declan Popp performed for the boys’ Interclub Performance.

Men’s coach Ryan Cochrane said: “As the final competition of the year, the Kitimat meet was a chance for the athletes to show improvements made throughout the season.”

The cherry on top of this session was the adorable girls’ and boys’ demonstration. It brought forward our youngest competitive gymnasts to give them a taste of competition before they actually start competing next year.

Georgia Besler, Kenzie Boudreau, Albert Czornohalan, Benjamin Maclaren, Charles Martel, Sienna Pitzel and Sadie Rego all participated.

For Session 3 Kitimat had Skyla Buick, Addison Pitzel and Hannah Van Horne compete in JO3 for younger gymnasts. Skyla performed a clean beam routine with a fourth finish with a sixth place overall. Addison Pitzel placed second on vault and second on beam for a second place overall.

Hannah Van Horne placed first on beam with seconds on floor and uneven bars for a first place overall. For JO3 for the older gymnasts, Madelyn Vilness earned her first medal of the season with a third on beam, placing fourth overall.

Session 4 had our highest level gymnasts competing. Gabriella Michaluk competed in JO4, making the jump up from level 3 after mastering her kip on the uneven bars.

Earning the kip is a type of rite of passage in gymnastics and athletes work months on earning this skill! Gabriella earned the gold on floor and the silver on vault for second place overall.

After a very successful provincial championship, Mya Anthony earned gold on vault, beam and floor for a second place overall in JO7.

Maggie Baker competed well for her top finish of the season landing her on the top step of the podium!

Maggie earned first on vault and beam with second on bar and floor.

Head coach, Angela Pitzel, reflected on pulling off an event of this size: “I think the competition went off without a hitch. Everything ran smoothly and on time and everyone who attended was very impressed. Our athletes felt good to show their stuff to all their friends and family.

“The high-level judges from Vancouver were very impressed that our small club could run such a great meet and they look forward to coming back next year.

“This event could not happen without the countless hours of our parent volunteers and the generous donations of our sponsors. Thank you all so much!”

Kitimat will be sending a small group of athletes to their final competition of the season in Kelowna in June.

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Maggie Baker on vault. (Photos Gerry Leibel)

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