The Cariboo Chicoltin Gymnastics Club bounced into Kelowna from June 2-5 for the Ogopogo Invitational.
Nine members of the team made the trip — the club’s last meet of this year’s season — facing off against gymnastics clubs from throughout B.C. and Alberta at Kelowna’s Okanagan Gymnastics Centre.
Andrew Bettles, Mason Wong and Joseph Brinoni competed in men’s artistic gymnastics, while Sophia Wong, Samantha McKee, Michaela Newberry, Ashley Palesch, Ellen Kaufman and Alyssa Cheverie each competed in various women’s categories.
CCGC coach Mike Stinson described the club’s showing, its last of the season, as a massive improvement from when he first took on the head coaching role last summer.
“Just [the other] night we were watching a video from their very first meet this year and then we watched a video from this meet and it was just unbelievable how far they’ve come in ability,” Stinson said.
“We have a star wall up at the club and each start is a new skill or achievement we’ve made.
“We’ve got more than 100 stars up there now. That’s quite amazing considering there’s only 10 of them.”
In Men’s Level 2 Brinoni took fourth overall in Kelowna — his best finish, third, coming on vault.
For Mens’ Level 3 gymnasts Mason finished second overall, landing third-place finishes on pommel horse, rings and vault. Meanwhile, Bettles took seventh with a fourth-place finish on pommel horse.
“The boys did great this year,” Stinson said. “They really took to my idea of the sport and my belief of the sport. Last year they weren’t strength training and that was a huge adjustment this year.
“Their strength levels just went through the roof and they’re doing skills we never imagined kids doing in our club.”
On the women’s side, Sophia, in the P2 Tyro class, landed her best finish, ninth, on floor.
In P1 Tyro, McKee took fifth on vault while Newberry, competing in the same class, placed third in the same event.
For P2 Novice competitors, Palesch finished 12th on vault, while Kaufman took eighth overall posting a second-place finish on vault and sixth-place finishes on both bars and floor. Cheverie, in the P2 Tyro class, placed 13th on vault in a field of 18 gymnasts for her best result.
Stinson said Kaufman, the club’s oldest gymnast at 15, embraced a leadership role within the group this year.
“Her presence in the gym was unreal,” Stinson said. “Being the senior member of the team she really took on a leadership role helping the younger kids and leading the way for our team and she loved it.”
Stinson added he’s grateful to all of the time his team spent training, along with the commitment from parents.
“Without them [the parents] we wouldn’t have a team,” he said.
The Cariboo Chilcotin Gymnastics Association is running recreational summer camps in July for kids ages one and up, along with a camp in August for competitive members.
Registration is underway for the July camp. For more information or to register call the club at 250-398-7331.